EIGHT planes are put on lockdown simultaneously on tarmac at Heathrow after passengers are suspected of having coronavirus

Heathrow Airport was gripped by coronavirus fears this morning when up to eight planes were put on lockdown after passengers on board complained of symptoms of the deadly virus.

Travellers on the United Airlines Flight 901 from San Francisco were told by the captain to stay in their seats after landing because someone might have the contagious infection, now named SARS-CoV-2.

Andy West, from Henley-on-Thames, told MailOnline passengers were warned by the plane's captain that they could be on the tarmac for a while because 'seven other planes' also had suspected cases.

He revealed staff on the flight took a passenger to the back of the plane without wearing any protective gear or face masks and waited for health officials to come. Everyone was eventually allowed to disembark half-an-hour later.

The cautious hold-up illustrates the increasing disruption the virus is causing for travellers around the world, even where the risk of genuine infections is considerably lower than it is in the Far East.

Public Health England and Heathrow officials have so far refused to release any information about this morning's incident, which may have affected hundreds of travellers.

But United Airlines, a US company, confirmed someone had 'become unwell' on board on the San Francisco flight.

The UK has been on red alert for more cases after the capital suffered its first confirmed patient on Wednesday and it emerged another patient had been to a transport conference in the capital before being diagnosed.